Australia govt decides to triple size of Macquarie Island Marine Park

International |  IANS  | Published :

Canberra, June 5 (IANS) The Australian government on Monday announced its decision to triple the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park for world ocean protection.

Under the expansion, the park, sitting between Tasmania and Antarctica, will grow from 162,000 square km to 475,465 square km, reports Xinhua news agency.

Sitting between Tasmania and Antarctica, Macquarie Island and the surrounding waters are home to some of the world's most iconic species including the endemic royal penguin, rockhopper penguin, subantarctic fur seal, southern elephant seal, black-browed albatross and the grey petrel.

Ninety-three per cent or 385,000 square km of the park -- an area larger than Germany -- will be completely closed to fishing, mining and other extractive activities, making a globally significant contribution to the health and resilience of the oceans.

Following two months of public consultation, the government has signed off on the marine park design. Over 14,700 submissions were received through the process, with more than 99 per cent in support.

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek's decision incorporates minor adjustments to the Patagonian Toothfish fishing zone in response to feedback provided by the sustainable commercial fishing industry that operate around Macquarie Island.

The expanded marine park will not impact their existing operations.

This decision means marine parks will make up over 48 per cent of Australian oceans.

"I want to protect our oceans for our kids and grandkids. This announcement is part of our mission to conserve Australia's special places, particularly those that are home to threatened species," the Minister was quoted as saying in an official statement.

"Macquarie Island is an exceptional place. It's a remote wildlife wonderland..."

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